Poet Nathalie Handal, author of The Republics, combines her love of cities and books in a monthly series called “The City and the Writer,” for the organization Words without Borders.
“I have a passion for cities, their irresistible unrest, the way they make you feel unsettled yet welcomed,” she explained. “I also have a passion for books. And, as we all know, the two go hand-in-hand. It’s hard not to think of Prague when one mentions Milan Kundera. Just as it’s difficult when one mentions the mystical Tangiers to not think of Paul Bowles and his expatriate life among the Moroccans.”
Handal said that since she was very young, authors and their books have made her long to visit the places and cultures they described. “Not just to experience the stories and people they introduced, but to discover the parts, certainly more vast, they couldn’t. And the secrets not published. Or, perhaps, not shared given the constraints of good storytelling.”
As an example, she cited Gabriel García Márquez, whom she said has given those who haven’t been to Colombia an immense insight into Bogota.
“So I decided, when I arrive in a new destination, I’ll go to those I trust most, writers, even though, in some cases, perhaps I shouldn’t—many are novelists, after all,” Handal stated. “The result, The City and the Writer, where readers will discover what I discover from our sometimes impish storytellers. Journey with me each month to a new city through the eyes of a new writer.”
You can find Handal’s articles on Words without Borders.